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Having a Purpose and a Plan #305138
07/06/13 02:34 PM
07/06/13 02:34 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
Board of Directors
Mark1952  Offline OP
Board of Directors
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
A Purpose and A Plan

You just found out that your marriage is in jeopardy. The one person you have trusted with the most vulnerable part of yourself has betrayed your trust and is involved in a relationship with someone else. You’ve probably confronted the situation by directly asking what is going on. You found the response to either make you question your own sanity or found that it hurt you deep in your soul in ways you never thought possible.

Now as you begin putting together the details of events, some long passed and others more recent, you start to see patterns. You may have heard the line that is so common in such situations that on forums like this one, it has its own abbreviation – ILYBINILWY – “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” You might have heard “I haven’t loved you in a long time” or “I never really loved you.” Other revelations seem to turn your marriage, maybe one that has been productive and enjoyable, at least from your perspective, into a relationship filled with neglect, thoughtlessness and issues of controlling behavior, even insane jealousy.

If you are like most of us, you already tried to reason with your spouse, to find the underlying cause of the “real” problems and probably made promises to back off and let him or her “have space” to sort out feelings and decide what the right thing to do might be. If you’re like most of us, you have had a hard time with that agreement and have found yourself constantly checking in, following your spouse around and using the phrase “I love you” more than in the previous ten years or more. All this while fighting the desire to break someone’s leg, beat someone senseless or bury somebody in the Pine Barrens.

Eventually, most of us look for help and a lot of us end up at a place like this one where we ask, “What should I do?”

Most websites like Marriage Advocates have a specific plan that you are told you should follow. They are more than willing to sell you a book, private coaching to achieve the goals of the plan and promise that with their help you will be successful. Usually the enticement appears on the very first page and usually says this: “75% of couples that follow our plan report having an improved marriage and more fulfilling relationship.”

I hesitate to rain on anyone’s parade, but if your spouse would follow any sort of plan with you, and you would BOTH do the hard work of repairing and rebuilding your relationship, you have a way better than 75% chance of ending up a lot happier together than you are right now. Good luck getting someone who either denies they are in any sort of inappropriate relationship or claims that relationship is the legitimate one and your marriage is a failure from the beginning to work any sort of plan to make the marriage healthy and viable.


So what you need right now is not a plan of rebuilding and restoring lost love. What you need at this moment is a plan to help you cope and make the hard choices necessary to protect your future happiness and well being, whether that ends up being a life spent with the spouse you have or someone yet unknown, or perhaps alone in your old age but content with that condition. One bit of advice I might offer at this stage is to take your time choosing which path you intend to pursue, because which way you point your ship is likely to determine where you will find safe harbor and eventual security. In the many hundreds of books written to help people cope with traumatic events, nearly every expert and those who have lived through trauma repeat one bit of advice. That advice is to delay making life-changing choices from which reversing course might be difficult until the initial shock and emotional roller coaster that follows has diminished.

Since Marriage Advocates does not sell books, charge for coaching, or provide any sort of services for financial considerations, finding a specific plan around here can be daunting. Many of our members are former members or graduates of other programs and forums, all of which promoted one single plan and method. Our early history here was fraught with debates and diatribes regarding the efficacy of various plans and programs. What most of us have in common is that we have lived through what you are experiencing right now. Our marriages were broken, seemingly beyond repair and though some of us have rebuilt our marriages, others have moved on and left the troubled relationship behind. Some have found new marriage partners and can look back on the old relationship and see faults, errors and unhealthy conditions that were not visible while still in those relationships.

Because Marriage Advocates does not offer a single program, you will hear advice about a plethora of ideas to help you get through the crisis you have found yourself in at this time. You will be given advice to “get a life” (GAL) and will hear about Plan A and Plan B. You will hear about boundaries and maybe “standing for your marriage.” You will be bombarded with abbreviations and what seem to be inside jokes or concepts that strike you as completely foreign. There will be debate among those trying to help you regarding what works and what road you should follow. Each person offering advice has had experience with things eerily similar to what you are going through, but where the one size fits all model really fails is that every marriage and every crisis involves two unique individuals and the timing of various attempts to turn a dying marriage around means that the predicted outcome of following any given advice is as unpredictable as the weather a year from now. Because each of us had our own experience, the possible outcomes for any advice are as numerous as the number of members giving advice.

Much of the advice you will receive will be “what worked for me” kinds of things. You are likely to receive nearly as much “what didn’t work for me” ideas as well. Trying to make sense of it all can be daunting and when your emotions are running from hope to hopelessness, anger and rage to fear and desire for revenge, following any sort of advice is likely to be difficult. What you need is a solid plan that will allow you to act in predictable ways so that your desired goals can be more likely to appear. Random approaches to dealing with this will lead to random outcomes. Figuring out what you want to happen will give you the best opportunity to reach that goal, whatever advice you might receive.


mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: Having a Purpose and a Plan [Re: Mark1952] #305140
07/06/13 02:36 PM
07/06/13 02:36 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
Board of Directors
Mark1952  Offline OP
Board of Directors
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Follow the Plan

I have in my life assembled many projects that had hundreds, even thousands of parts and sections. They used tools of various types at various times and in some cases had more fasteners than most local hardware stores have in stock on any given day. I own screw drivers for Slotted, Phillips, Crosspoint, Torx, Robertson, and several sizes of most. I have SAE wrenches and Metric wrenches and Deadblow Hammers and Ball Peen Hammers, and Sledge Hammers and Framing Hammers and a Table Saw and a Circular Saw and a Saber Saw and a Hack Saw and a Crosscut Saw and a Rip Saw…

We bought a Home Gym a few years ago (not sure why any more) and I dragged it all in and opened the boxes and started laying out the parts and pieces around the basement. The assembly instructions were over a hundred pages of diagrams and written instructions. The fasteners ranged from tiny Phillips head sheet metal screws to ½ inch bolts over two inches long. The parts list was over ten pages of different pieces, all of which had a specific purpose. Some parts looked similar. Others were mirror images of each other. Some were seemingly identical except for color. Some were used only once while others were used in many places. There were cables, pins, bolts, nuts, clips, brackets, rollers, springs, and pulleys… There were so many kinds of pieces that a government program seems such a simple thing by comparison. The picture of the completed project looked so simple and there I sat surrounded by thousands of parts from tiny to massive made of plastic and steel, aluminum and brass, wood and vinyl, in black and gray and red and blue…

Some of the assembly required that I have help to hold something, line things up, or simply help in lifting the heavy stuff into place and fastening those things where they belonged. Most of it I could complete by myself. It was tedious, even mind numbing at times, but I finished the thing in about a week, working late into the night after a long day at work. I discovered very early in the project that following the plan for assembly was critical. Some of the stuff made no sense as I would assemble various subassemblies to a certain stage and leave other parts scattered around just begging to be lost until hours or even days later in the process. What I soon realized was that there were reasons for those kinds of nonsensical steps. Putting the plastic cap onto the end of a pole might seem like it should happen early in the process, especially when other similar parts were in place, but later it might have to be removed to perform some other step in the process.

So, I followed the steps and written instructions, one step at a time the way the book told me to put it all together. The first night it was still a hundred piles of parts with packages of unopened nuts and bolts piled in the corners of the room. It was easy to want this thing put together and at times, I wondered what the whole point really might be. Was the completed project worth the effort and time I was investing or would a membership at the local gym be more cost effective?

When the job was done, I stood back and admired my work. Then I packed away the directions, the parts list, the library of paper that had led me to having my own workout equipment and filed them where they can be located if I ever have to take the thing apart. Without those plans, about all I can do is cut the thing apart and turn it to scrap or leave it behind should I ever move to another house. Without the plans, the whole thing is just so much junk with too many pieces to even keep track of. Putting the parts, even in the right place but out of sequences renders the whole mechanism pointless and worthless. Without the plans, it might as well be a paperweight app on my smart phone.

Now here is something to consider. Those plans for that exercise equipment helped me accomplish something that gave me a sense of pride and serves a useful purpose, even if I don’t use the thing much any more. The plans were detailed and thorough with step-by-step actions to be followed to achieve something useful and complex in the end. Following those plans exactly got me something of value that I could not have had by any other sequence of events. As good as those plans were, there was nothing in them that helped me change the alternator on my pickup truck. They were of no value in assembling the dishwasher or fixing the washing machine when it broke down. The best of plans has a purpose and until you have established the purpose and end point, there are no plans that can be followed that will lead to what you want. Actually, what you want to end up with in the end determines what plans must be followed and until you know where you want to go, no GPS guided directions can get you there.

The best plan for saving your marriage might not work at all for protecting yourself and your children in a nasty divorce. Fixing a relationship that was filled with years of resentment and neglect is not the same goal as solving a crisis brought about by drug addiction and the plans required for each will not be the same at every step. Just like my gym project, some subassembly must take place while finishing touches might have to be delayed until the project is nearer completion. Solving one tiny problem might seem like such a crucial piece when spending a lot of effort and time to achieve that now might actually prevent ever getting the whole thing completed so it can be useful and have lasting value.

The first thing you must know about your current situation is the truth of what your situation really is all about. You must know where you really are to know where to turn to reach your goal. You must also know your goal. Until you have decided what you want to happen and begin taking steps to reach that goal, you will be wandering aimlessly through life, reacting to daily, even hourly changes that lead you nowhere and just about assure that you won’t get what you want in the end.


The thing about any plan is that it gives you steps to take to reach some achievable goal or mission. Following the plan to build a garage will never help you install your home theater system. Stating that you want to build a garage is not a plan to build one. Deciding how to adjust the hundreds of settings of your surround sound receiver won’t get you the sound you want. You must decide what you want to end up with and then follow a plan to reach that goal. The choice is not the plan.

The problem with the various plans offered here is that they aren’t a single choice. Following one plan and then acting from another plan because it seems like it was easier or more to the point means that you aren’t following any plan. The plans will also be fraught with if->then and “might as well” things along the way. Sometimes part of one plan helps you achieve an immediate goal while the plan overall will not help you reach your goal. It can be very confusing to know what advice to follow and until you have your own plan, any advice you follow will only bring you back for more advice. Some of the plans will help solve one set of problems while another plan might work better for another set. What will make you feel better right now will not always make you happy ten years from now and the choices you make today might change your future and those of your children in ways you can only begin to fathom right now.


mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: Having a Purpose and a Plan [Re: Mark1952] #305141
07/06/13 02:37 PM
07/06/13 02:37 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
Board of Directors
Mark1952  Offline OP
Board of Directors
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Picking a Plan

In order to pick a plan, you must know what you hope to achieve. Your plan, while arranged in some sense of order and containing steps that will eventually lead to your goal will not be the same as the plan that helped someone else reach a different goal and outcome. What worked for someone else might not work for you but the principles and parts of the plan can help you decide what to do.

What do you want to accomplish? Where are you right now? What brought you to Marriage Advocates? Are you trying to avoid a future crisis or are you in the middle of a crisis that will doom your marriage if it is not resolved? Do you want fix a problem in your marriage or are you trying to save a marriage that is marked by an affair? Do you hope to end up with a great marriage or is your plan to end up with a great and satisfying divorce?

What you hope to accomplish will help you to come up with a plan. Some roads are parallel while others contain turning points from which there is no return without long circuitous detours and hard work for years to come. What makes this so confusing and stressful is that you are likely to not even know at this time what you want to achieve in the end. That is perfectly OK at first and reflects back to that advice of the experts to delay making life-altering choices while in the midst of an emotional crisis. You might spend a while in a sort of holding pattern, but even in such a pattern having a plan that leaves options open can help you deal with the day-to-day choices that might change your course in ways that limit your choices in the future. As you try to decide what to do, be careful that you don’t do things that make the choice for you. Doing things that make a divorce work out to your advantage might make not divorcing more difficult and failing to secure your finances and home could result in loss of both. Just like planning a vacation, booking a flight and making reservations at the hotel can be done before you are headed for the airport to board the plane. Even before you know where you are going you can research and learn about the possible destinations so you know what each trip will get you and what you must do to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.


mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: Having a Purpose and a Plan [Re: Mark1952] #305142
07/06/13 02:43 PM
07/06/13 02:43 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
Board of Directors
Mark1952  Offline OP
Board of Directors
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
The Purpose of a Plan

A plan might be said to be a systematic method of achieving a goal. In sports, teams often spend a great deal of effort on devising the best possible game plan to maximize the likelihood that they will win a game or championship. This game plan often includes details regarding the selection of specific personnel for specific conditions as well as finding methods of utilizing the strengths of the individuals on the team. At the same time, a solid plan must minimize the impact of the individual weaknesses of team members as well as current conditions.

The game plan must be flexible, since opponents will try to adjust to the team’s plan to negate strengths and take advantages of unforeseen weaknesses, both in execution by individuals as well as tendencies of the overall game plan to become predictable and inflexible. This means that any plan that has the same set response to certain conditions is more vulnerable than one that can adapt while still trying to achieve specific goals. Even more important is that the short term and single play goals must be driven by a purpose to achieve an even bigger and more important goal, that of winning.

Some sports lend themselves to a well-executed plan deciding the outcome almost from the outset. Most games however last long enough that mistakes occur on both sides, teams adapt better or worse to the plan and some plays develop slowly but because of precise execution pay huge rewards when the game is on the line. Sometimes a team will find themselves trailing their opponents and having a solid plan to overcome adversity, unlucky bounces or temporary lapses in execution can in those times mean the difference between success and failure.

There is however another sort of plan that must be present for a team to really be considered a success. Winning a game can be daunting, but what matters most to most teams is winning a season long championship. Injuries, loss of key players and adjustment to the team’s plan by opponents all come into play. In a championship run or playoff series, the escalation and increase in pressure, speed and execution all matter more than when a team has another game to work out details and hunt for solutions to problems. Even during the course of the season, before playoff teams are set, teams make adjustments to personnel or tactics to improve the odds of winning the deciding game in a playoff series against a most likely opponent.

If you long for a plan to restore your broken marriage, you must understand that you can’t win on the first play of the game. In fact, winning the game isn’t the analogy to consider at the beginning of your struggle. You must be focused on restoration of your marriage including your love for each other and future stability and sustainability of your relationship. Scoring points, getting even, punishing your spouse all might make you feel better in the short term. Not all of those kinds of things will assure you success in saving your marriage and some of them might help you break your spouse’s affair but fail to bring about your ultimate goal. You might win the game but fail to win the championship. The season is a long one and you must win enough of the battles within each game to keep things close, to warrant respect, and must win enough games along the way to find yourself in contention when the playoff series begins.

Even hitting a home run in your first at bat will not win the World Series and because another team might choose to walk your slugger when the game is on the line, keeping focused on what you are actually trying to achieve can prevent frustration, swinging for the fence with every pitch and turning the whole ordeal into a conflict over dominance instead of reaching your goal. You need to score points, enough to win as many games as possible. You must win enough games to be a contender in the playoff series and you must be flexible and strong enough to bring your “A Game” when things count the most.

So to find a winning plan demands that you first find a purpose worth striving for. Most often, you arrived here not even knowing if you should bother trying to save your marriage or if walking away intact and healthy enough to go on with life should be your goal. If you haven’t decided to try to save your marriage but haven’t really chosen to walk away and start over without your unfaithful spouse, you don’t have to have a plan to do either. You should however come up with a plan that precludes neither and yet allows you time to decide. Things that will get you the best deal in a divorce will not always assure that you can rebuild your relationship even if your spouse’s affair ended today. There are things that will maximize the likelihood that your unfaithful spouse will try to reconnect with you when his or her affair is over, but not all of those things will give you an advantage in divorce court and some of them might be things that will emotionally disable you if they become a way of life.

What you should do, even if your goal is reconciliation, is to include protecting your future and emotional health should your efforts to save your marriage fail. If you want to divorce, then do it and stop wasting energy and causing yourself grief over getting your spouse to love you again. If you want to save your marriage, figure out what gives you the best chance of achieving that goal and let your efforts reflect that as your purpose.

Doing things on purpose is not the same as doing them by accident. It is also not the same as doing things that might feel better or give you a short term win but make long term success more unlikely or more difficult. When you have a purpose, the things you do, as part of your plan, should reflect that purpose. If you don’t mean it, don’t do it and if it won’t lead to your purpose, it probably isn’t as much a plan as a random shot in the dark or swing for the fence when you need to score runs (more than one) and make sure your team is solid for the playoffs.

Decide the purpose of your plan and then devise a plan that gives you the best opportunity to fulfill your purpose. Things you do that lead away from your purpose should not be a part of your plan. If you burn out before you get a chance to reconcile, your purpose cannot be fulfilled. If you allow resentment and anger to build until your love for your spouse turns to hatred and a desire to punish him or her, you will prevent or at least delay fulfilling your purpose. If it leads away from your purpose, whether that purpose is to divorce and move on or work to reconcile in the end, it shouldn’t be part of your plan and will make reaching your goal more difficult.



mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: Having a Purpose and a Plan [Re: Mark1952] #305144
07/06/13 02:53 PM
07/06/13 02:53 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
Board of Directors
Mark1952  Offline OP
Board of Directors
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Willard Harley’s Plan A and Plan B

A little background on what Dr Harley says about Plan A and Plan B might be in order here. According to his latest description of what Plan A and Plan B are about states that they provide the highest possible probability of ending up still married when an affair ends. What not many people get is that he tells why he feels they offer the best opportunity to save a marriage in the end. The purpose is to save the marriage but the reasoning behind the plans is that most affairs will eventually end no matter what else takes place. The majority, according to Harley, end within six months of being confronted and becoming known outside of the affair itself. One common statistic that gets tossed around from time to time is that most affairs end within two years. Some might last a lifetime and some might be a single night of drunken weakness, but between those two extremes reside nearly all affairs. Except for the occasional outlier or exception, the majority of affairs last about 2 years or less.

Additionally, very few affairs lead to lasting relationships. Over the years, experts have tried to come up with definitive reasons why this might be true. Many believe it has to do with the loss of passion, which is fueled by testosterone, dopamine and PEA drivers that increase passion but fail to build the other parts of a lasting romantic relationship. An affair is very passionate most of the time. It includes lies, clandestine meetings, secret communications and ignoring faults in each other and the relationship. In Robert Sternberg’s triangle model of romantic relationships, passion is but one point of a triangle defined by commitment and intimacy and encompassing the intellect, as well as the emotions. When passion dies, romantic love dies. If there is little else to fall back on, the relationship dies, too. When all that fuels the connection is the drive to embrace passion, when that passion begins to subside, which typically takes between 6 and 24 months for most romantic relationships, unless there is more to the relationship and other reasons for being together can be found, the relationship slowly dies or is replaced by a new one filled with more passion.

In Bill Harley’s discussion of how Plan A and Plan B work to save a marriage, this is a key component. It is one that not many see when emotions are running high, anger is fueled by emotional pain and frustration is building resentment. Most marriage might begin as relationships fueled by passion, but if a couple has created a history together that involves the other points on the triangle, commitment and intimacy, a shared history and common goals, more of those things remain when the passion dies than are left in most passionate and exciting affairs. Sharing children, family, important events all work to maintain a bond and connection that is built on more than just the passion and newness of early love.

One part of this that gets lost somehow is that these other things do not always destroy and override the passion of an affair. They are still there and the connection still remains but the excitement and passion of the affair makes the affair more fulfilling for the unfaithful spouse and so he or she is drawn to that passion filled affair the way an addict is drawn to experience the rush of an addictive drug. Like an addict, the only thing that will break the addiction is to stay away from the drug long enough to complete withdrawal. It might begin with a simple choice to end the affair and work at restoration of the marriage, but few will make that choice and be willing to abide by it when it is first offered as a solution to their problems. Just like the betrayed spouse who waffles daily, first deciding to divorce and be done only to long for reconnection and a shared life together within days, hours or even minutes, the unfaithful spouse will likely state the affair is over, express remorse and announce with great resolve that the marriage is important. Like any addict, the anguish caused to the spouse, the stress on the family and the fear of losing something of value all work to conjure up a desire end the affair. Like most addicts, those decisions pale when the longing for contact with the lover resurfaces, depression starts of set in and an ache that only the source of the addiction can relieve begins to grow.

As a result, even when an affair ends when the unfaithful spouse is confronted, this longing and attraction to the affair partner can remain and many succumb to the drive to make contact. If fear of being divorced by the faithful spouse does not prevent the affair from happening, fear of losing the faithful spouse will seldom be enough to destroy this attraction and longing to make contact without other factors being at work on the marriage relationship.

I have seen many arrive here and at other sites in the past seven years declaring that they have “unwittingly” or “instinctively” followed Plan A before learning what it entails. I was one of those people; so, I am still speaking from experience. In addition, from my experience, I can tell you this.

You didn’t follow Plan A instinctively and definitely did not follow Plan A without knowing what it was all about. According to Harley, Plan A is about trying to negotiate an end to the affair without making the marriage something to be avoided, even driving the unfaithful spouse toward his or her lover as “the only person who truly cares about me.”

At the same time, Plan A seeks to address the core reasons the affair occurred to begin with, beyond simply the failure of one spouse to protect the relationship. Because the specific reasons an affair became an attractive option or more likely can vary from marriage to marriage and affair to affair, no part of Plan A can be said to be a cookie cutter application. Following the cookie analogy further, it might be said to be basic instructions for making cookies without telling you what shape or even what kind of cookies those might turn out to be.

That is why Plan A becomes so difficult for most of us. It requires figuring out exactly what steps need to be in the plan and what ingredients you will be working with. It is not a plan as much as a guideline for developing a plan meant to address your unique and specific situation.

Because one thing common to many affairs seems to be unmet needs (Harley calls them Emotional Needs), Plan A should include addressing these issues. If one of the things that caused an emotional disconnection with the spouse was that too much time was spent apart to sustain the feeling of connection, Plan A should address this problem as well. If the unfaithful spouse has felt abandoned emotionally, unsupported in raising kids, paying bills or dealing with daily stress, only addressing these things will restore the love that has been lost. So any Plan A requires that three things happen in order to fulfill the purpose of Plan A, which is said by its author as being the attempted negotiation of an unfaithful spouse from his or her lover.

  1. The root causes of the affair must be addressed
  2. Hope that love can be restored must be present
  3. It must be emotionally satisfying enough to see this hope as something worth giving up the passion of the affair to hang onto


It now becomes necessary to understand Harley’s Love Bank model sufficiently to understand why Plan A talks about Emotional Needs and Love Busters. In his model, things that he calls emotional needs, when met, cause us to want to experience more from the person who met those needs. Love busters are the things that make us want to recoil from or flee from a person who makes us feel fearful, unheard and uncared for.

Basically, Emotional Needs are things that cause us to experience happiness or well being and long for connection with a person who is present when we feel those things, or we identify as the source of those feelings. Love Busters are things that are within our control that come from selfishness and discount the way another person feels. You might be very good at providing exactly what is needed but constantly show thoughtlessness and lack of concern for your spouse when you interact. You might demand that he or she do something with an implied or overt threat of some form of punishment should he or she fail to comply with your wishes. You might ignore his or her requests for at least considering his or her point of view when deciding what you will do. You might try to emotionally manipulate and coerce him or her into meeting your needs in spite of or even in exchange for meeting of his or her needs.

Therefore, the short version of executing Plan A is:
  1. Meet your spouse’s Emotional Needs
  2. Avoid Love Busters


Let’s look at these parts in a little more detail.

You are going to meet your spouse’s Emotional Needs.

How will you meet those needs?

What specific needs does your spouse have? His or her needs are unlikely to be remotely the same as your needs and what makes you feel loved and loving toward someone is more likely to go unnoticed or become a source of revulsion than to actually cause your spouse to be drawn to you.

Misidentifying needs is not uncommon nor extremely easy to see., even for those trained in doing it. This is only in part because we each have our own set of needs that make us feel love toward someone when they are present. We instinctively do what makes us experience what we seek to make someone else experience the same feelings. So our needs color or weight responses and blur of hide altogether the specific needs of someone who is often actually telling us what he or she needs from us to feel in love with us. However, because what our spouse needs makes little sense, we try to define what is being said in terms that we ourselves associate with feelings we are trying to create toward us.

Because of this, at least in part, men tend to make the mistake of applying their own experience to the problem at hand and ignore the literature and work already done for them should they actually examine it. Men recall a great weekend, event or time in the relationship when everything seemed to go so well and try to figure out what took place. Therefore, they quite often rank Recreational Companionship as a top need of their wife.

Men rank sex as a high need since if it wasn’t a need, why would she be having sex with someone else. This leads to trying to understand how to be a better lover and leads further to feelings of failure since we are unable to take care of our wives the way they need to be taken care of and it speaks directly to one of our own top needs, and so we somehow have failed as a man as well as husband.

Suddenly, men want to understand what is going on and how to become a better husband, so we start to see conversation as a top need. We probably get this one right, but fail completely to understand how it works. We instead use “communication” the way men use it, to inform, problem solve, resolve conflicts, fix the relationship and seek help in identifying what will make things “better” at once.

Men typically fail to actually identify their wife’s top emotional needs. The answer to this is actually in Harley’s work for those willing to consider what he is saying. Most women experience the same 5 emotional needs as their top 5. This is not to say that all 5 of these will be top needs of any given woman nor does it mean that meeting these 5 will assure instant success as a husband. The 5 emotional needs most often reported by women are:
  1. Conversation (not problem solving but simply seeking to understand and be understood)
  2. Affection (nothing to do with sex drive at all)
  3. Family Commitment (needs of family, children, connection, take priority over fun, comfort and ambition)
  4. Financial Support (knowing the family will have enough without having to sacrifice the instinct to nurture and care for the children)
  5. Honesty and Openness (men who just found out they have been lied to by the person they most trusted in life will think they get this. It isn’t about confession and setting the record straight. It is about sharing a life, not hiding information from each other and making oneself vulnerable emotionally.)


Not every women will have these top 5 in this order. Most women will have these 5 as her top 5 in some order. Nearly every woman will have three of these in her top five with two of the three being #1 and #2


===============================
Note: Unmet needs, even those that fall into the bottom 5, can suddenly rise in importance if unmet long enough. Even if a woman’s need for sex is nearly nonexistent, its importance can become higher if she suddenly finds herself experience desire that goes unmet. Mating behavior is not always related to sex drive and things other than a need to get off can stimulate desire.

This is a different topic for a different post. It really does not come into play for this discussion.
=================================

If men typically make one serious mistake, it is that they define Plan A as ending the conflict and appeasing an angry spouse. Men tend to keep the peace and define “what works” as things that allow for a peaceful life and no outward animosity being shown toward them. What does not work then becomes anything that leads to conflict or results in an angry response. If a guy’s wife raises her voice, he backs down because men bellow and bang their chest as a sign of territorial disputes and actually fighting seldom takes place. A man when challenged either destroys his challenger or backs down and sulks away. Failing to stand up and bellow to achieve success, men sulk and slink away from conflict to avoid real combat to the death.

Women typically make a different set of mistakes related to competing with the affair partner. They often talk about not understanding what their unfaithful husband sees in his affair partner. She might be older, less attractive, less well dressed. She might be younger, even younger than his children or have problems that seem to outweigh any attractive qualities. These women then seek to seduce their husbands into ending the affair by outdoing the other woman in sex, flirting, lewd behavior and the way they dress.

What I find most amazing is that this often actually works. The problem for most is that it is unsustainable for the rest of the marriage. Eventually everyone gets older, has a bad day, tires of being available any old time. Additionally, should the husband fail to return to the marriage or return and later have another affair, this sort of dynamic leads many women to ramp up their own sexually provocative behavior which seldom goes unnoticed among other men. Dropping 30 pounds of weight gained over 3 decades of child bearing, suddenly wearing short skirts instead of jeans and becoming that beauty he first found himself hopeless drawn to might bring him home. It might also make other men willing to enter the competition and give her reason to decide that maybe he wasn’t all that and the bag of chips turned out to be empty.

Still, men most often report that they found themselves attracted to another women sexually before even getting to know her. They also often say they felt admired, like they were rescuing someone more screwed up than themselves, helping someone who was helpless only to fall in love by accident and a host of other reasons. Not many are willing to abandon their family for sex alone and if you set about becoming a sex goddess to lure a cheating husband home, success requires you remain that sex goddess or porn star to keep him interested…

Unless you can find the root causes of the affair and address them as part of your Plan A.




Most men have as their top 5 emotional needs:
  1. Recreational Companionship (men build relationship by doing stuff together. Women by communicating with those they want a relationship)
  2. Sexual Fulfillment (not “just sex”, this is how men make connections and bond with women)
  3. Physical Attractiveness (He wants his wife to be HOT, but his view is heavily weighted by events of the past and historical data. He sees you the way you were when he fell in love with you rather than the way you have become. If he now sees you as fat, old, uninteresting, you might need a makeover and some new clothes, but just being the best you’ve got is usually good enough)
  4. Domestic Support (His home is his castle. He wants it to work well, even when not around to supervise things and wants to feel like it is a sanctuary rather than another place to spend his time toiling for little reward)
  5. Admiration (He needs to be your knight in shining armor. When he feels you think him to be a burden, he will remain a knight, but look for other damsels to rescue and reap the rewards of her gratitude. Mainly he just wants to know that you appreciate the effort he contributes to providing for you and the children.)


Not all men will have these 5 in this order. Most will have these 5 as top emotional needs and nearly all of them will have three of these in the top 5, usually ranked as #1 and #2.

If your spouse is building a new relationship with a new lover, he or she isn’t likely to agree to fill out a bunch of forms and help you destroy the exciting newness of the affair. Especially for women and in exit affairs, your spouse might have checked out of the relationship with you before finding someone to cheat with. Almost all will tell you this regardless of the truth and even when the affair happened gradually over time and is the cause of the current disconnect with you rather than just a reflection of it (which is the typical truth for most), you are unlikely to get much help in identifying emotional needs from someone whose needs are being met in such an exciting way by someone new.

This means, it is up to you to figure out his or her top 5 emotional needs or at least 3 on the top five. Until you have done so, you can’t be doing Plan A because doing Plan A means addressing unmet emotional needs as part of the plan. Until you know what you should be doing, you can’t possibly be doing it as part of a plan. If you aren’t doing it with purpose, you aren’t following a plan.

Plan B

Plan B has been described in recent weeks as what you do when you are ready to move on, a last ditch effort to make your unfaithful spouse fear losing you because he or she “thinks” you are moving on, a way to force the affair partner to meets all the needs and fail doing it and what you do if you can’t take the pain any more. I can tell you that Plan B is all of those things and none of those things.

Plan B is a separation from your still unfaithful spouse so that you don’t end up unwilling to reconcile after years of emotional abuse. That does not mean it is what you do when you can’t take any more. According to the author of the plan, Plan B is what you do when you fail to negotiate an end to the affair and commitment to rebuilding the marriage from your unfaithful spouse during Plan A. The two together are a single plan with two steps to increase probability of ending up still married and on the road to a better life together. Plan B is said to last up to two years because after two years, not much chance remains of a happy life together because of a lot of things beyond just the end of the affair.


Plan B is not meant to be a last ditch attempt to make a cheating spouse come home but never address problems in the marriage. If anyone makes a mistake in Plan B it is letting Plan B end when the spouse calls and says he or she is ready to come home. Unless the unfaithful spouse agrees to another plan, one of working to rebuild the trust and love between you, coming home is more a matter of convenience than actually longing and typically ends up in a relapse or new affair down the road. Unless the marriage gets fixed, by the two of you each addressing what your own half dictates to address root causes and problems related to the affair, losing the affair partner, even giving up the affair partner, does not create a healthy and happy marriage for either of you.

Together, Plan A and Plan B give a path to possible reconciliation that uses the reality of affairs to keep you from walking away from a relationship that can be saved. Plan A speaks to why your spouse might be walking away and Plan B is about letting an affair end and an unfaithful spouse agree to fix the marriage before just moving forward as if nothing ever went wrong at all. Plan A strives to give your spouse hope that he or she can be happy with you again. Plan B keeps you from ending up unwilling to try for that happiness because of resentment and your own unmet needs.


mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: Having a Purpose and a Plan [Re: Mark1952] #305146
07/06/13 02:57 PM
07/06/13 02:57 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
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Mark1952  Offline OP
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A Plan to Solve a Problem

In order to solve a problem you must first identify and define exactly what the problem is and what it entails. Fixing a general feeling of disconnect in your marriage is not solved the same way as fixing a relationship that is blown to bits by an affair. Dealing with addiction to drugs or alcohol requires different steps than dealing with a bipolar spouse in the middle of a manic disconnect from reality. Some aspects of dealing with one might be beneficial in dealing with the other, but a plan to solve one problem will seldom fully solve another.

There is a class of problems called Wicked Problems. “Wicked” in this case is not a judgment of intent or a description of how evil something is. It refers to the fact that some problems have very simple solutions that are readily apparent but how you define and see the problem determines what those steps to solve it actually might be. Defining a problem as a mid-life crisis or as a walk-away-spouse tired of neglect and frustration can point you to a plan. Applying those same steps to an affair will yield, at best, less than satisfying results of your goal is to save your marriage. Yet, because marriages in crisis tend to come around in time, some of the advice offered by one plan can often help, or not really hinder, resolution of a situation for which it was not really designed.

Some plans are higher-level plans than others. This is not a measure of better or worse or even a gage of how well something might work. The more detailed a plan, the more narrowly it must be focused. Because any plan with a lot of specific steps to achieve a specific goal must make certain assumptions about the starting point as well as the goal, following such a plan can be very simple and in the end fail to achieve the purpose for which you sought such a plan.

The world of computers was filled with such dilemmas in the early years. If you write a program or application to achieve some specific outcome, it can have a lot of useful stuff and many friendly features and bells and whistles that make it look simple and easy to use. You don’t have to know how the computer sends data to your printer in order to click the button that says <PRINT>. If you want an application that sends your typed words to a printer it requires different steps to arrive at that point than if you want to print out a picture that you modified after loading it from that new state-of-the-art DSLR you just bought. The printer does care about any of those differences, but you can’t do one with the same application as the other. The less precisely you define things, the more broadly an application or programming language can be applied. The fewer base level commands available, the more directions you can take the program. In order to make the right application however, requires more fully understanding the more foundational pieces of how it all works.

When it comes to solving marital problems, some programs will solve one set of problems while others solve an entirely different set of problems. The more broadly a program can be applied, the more difficult it might be to apply it to your own unique set. Yet in the end, the simpler the base level set of applications is, the more likely it is to be something that can be customized to fit your unique problems.

Every program has some assumptions upon which the entire program is based. The very first assumption is a model for what makes a marriage work and what it actually is. Many programs for dealing with problems begin with the problem, or what is making the marriage not work (fail). The whole process then revolves around solving a problem by analyzing why it is a problem. It starts with defining the problem. Because so many problems in marriage are those wicked problem sorts of deals, in order to achieve a goal, the problem must be defined in a way that limits how broadly the application can be made without ending up with what I call the bigger hammer solution. The steps to that process are always the same:
  1. Measure with a micrometer (define the problem narrowly enough that one solution is likely to work)
  2. Mark with chalk (define the goals abstractly so that success can be claimed regardless of outcome)
  3. Cut with an axe (define what actions should be taken to leave as little doubt about choices as possible)
  4. Fit with a hammer (if the problem and the solution don’t align well, modify the problem so the solution fits)
    1. Beat to fit (if at first you don’t succeed… try harder)
    2. Paint to match (even limited success can be made to look better with a fresh coat of whitewash)
  5. If success proves elusive, go to step 4
    1. Use a BIGGER hammer
    2. Increase size of hammer until successful fit is achieved
    3. Spruce things up so they look better by applying more whitewash



What makes all of this necessary is that each program or set of advice is based on a certain set of assumptions. The most basic of those assumptions however start with an understanding of marriage and what makes a marriage work. What is a good and healthy marriage? What does a great marriage look like and what makes it great instead of mediocre or even horrible and dysfunctional? So how you define what is wrong with a failing marriage is as much a function of how you define a good marriage or even marriage in general. The fewer hoops must be jumped through, the fewer things that must be brought into alignment in order to make it all work, the more broadly the application that can be made but the less detailed the steps are and the more adaptation of a plan must be made by the end user.

The simplest explanation for how something works is often the most likely to be true. The fewer manipulations and calculations needed to make a model fit the observable data, the more likely it can be universally applied. The less detailed the foundation, the more easily and readily what is built upon it can be adapted to meet the needs of those who use that foundation. What this means, however, is that the more broadly it can be adapted the more fully it must be understood in order to be applied to the widest range of possible needs. It also means that there are limits to what can be built upon a simple foundation and so what your problem might be must be defined in a way that it can be tested for fit. Some things work well to help a couple reconnect. Those same things can be utter failures if one spouse is an addict out of control and acting out in ways that are self-destructive.

The elements you include in your plan must be things you can accomplish but must be geared toward the reality you are faced with. Working for months on communication skills with a spouse who is building a relationship with someone else is not only pointless but also counterproductive. Absorbing the literature on conflict resolution in an effort to keep the peace with a spouse who goes out to see a lover every night is self-defeating. The more directly your plan addresses a specific problem that is not the problem of your spouse being in love with someone else, the less that plan will apply to your situation if your spouse is in love with someone else.

Yet you also face the problem of having a plan that addresses your unique situation. Therefore, you must deal with the specific issues that led to your spouse having an affair and not just dabble in general realms of relationship advice. The tricky part seems to be understanding the principles behind a plan so that your adaptations remain within the plan but flexible enough to fit your own unique problem.

Identify the problem you need to solve. Define it in a way that gets at the root cause or foundation of that problem and focus all your efforts on moving toward one consistent goal and objective. When you follow the advice of others you are more likely to actually follow that advice or do what the advice suggests if you understand why that advice was given and as much as possible why that advice might work.

Every marital program at its heart has some model that is based on certain assumptions and definitions. The simplest often are the hardest to understand because they are so broadly applicable and so loosely defined. The more narrowly focused the program, plan or application, the less likely it is to actually apply to your unique problems.

That is why the plan most likely to solve your problem must be your plan, defined from your own life experience and history with your spouse. What the various programs offer is a set of assumptions from which a direction can be derived that will influence everything that flows from that program.



mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman
Re: Having a Purpose and a Plan [Re: Mark1952] #306046
07/14/13 09:11 PM
07/14/13 09:11 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 5,072
SW Chicago 'burbs
Mark1952 Offline OP
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Mark1952  Offline OP
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Plan B: Some Observations


What I think a lot of people miss the boat on when it comes to Plan B is that it is the follow-up for when an affair doesn't end during Plan A. If Plan A is the first attempt to demonstrate what ending the affair and working together on the marriage could look like, Plan B is the next step when the affair does not end during Plan A. The issue then is what is Plan B supposed accomplish?

If Plan B is supposed to be a way to change the unfaithful spouse, then it needs to be a way to pressure him to make the changes. If it is meant to give the faithful spouse peace and a break from the daily pain and drama that usually surrounds an affair, then I think it needs to be more about protection for the faithful spouse than anything else.

When you look at how Dr Harley describes Plan A and Plan B, his starting point is that the two together raise the probability that reconciliation can occur. The two plans together give the greatest likelihood of ending up with a restored marriage, according to him. That position is based on his observations and some assumptions about affairs, also the result of his observations during years of seeing how affairs play out.

The first key to understanding Plan B, I think, comes from his suggestion that Plan B might last up to two years. This is because the typical affair will last that long or less. Most, in fact, last a matter of months. Recent studies indicate that the majority of affairs last over one month but less than one year. At the extreme ends of the spectrum are affairs that are one night stands, a single, often drunken, night of indiscretion and, at the other extreme, affairs that result in a long term, even happy and fulfilling romantic relationship. As many as 10% might fall into the former category while it is accepted by most researchers and true experts that around 3% or less fall into the latter.

If most affairs end within a year or less and nearly all end within two years, then it can't really be known if the marriage can be saved and rebuilt until that sort of time frame has passed. While some affairs might end simply because they are discovered, even more end for a variety of causes. In some cases, one or the other affair partner begins to realize that the marriage is worth saving or that holding the family together might be important enough to end it. In some cases the foundation of the affair which might be the secrecy and taboo aspects of the relationship might not hold together once the affair is made public. Sometimes one person will have an epiphany and end the affair. Other times the stress of making the affair into a daily interactive and shared relationship exposes or exploits flaws in the partnership and the affair implodes because it cannot be sustained. Plan B might feed into a lot of these problems that lead to the demise of the affair and at the same time help protect both spouses from doing things or saying stuff that will damage the marriage relationship beyond what one or both are willing to fix to get back together.

In Harley's description, Plan B is a separation that gives the affair time to end, whatever the stimulus that brings the end about. In looking at Plan B, there is another little piece that gets missed more often than it is caught. Dr Harley says that sometimes an unfaithful spouse will fall into cake eating during Plan A. With a spouse now seeking to be even better at meeting needs and avoid doing damage to the emotional reactions that come from love busters, the unfaithful spouse doesn't really want the marriage partnership to be taken away. Sometimes the affair partner is also meeting some key need or just feeding something within him that makes giving up the affair partner a less than ideal thought. Each person, the affair partner and the spouse, is providing something that he needs or at least feels he needs to be happy and fulfilled. He doesn't want a divorce but doesn't want the marriage as a monogamous and exclusive relationship either. What he wants is to keep the marriage partner while letting the affair partner layer even more satisfaction and happiness on top. Most affairs fall into this category, I think. I would call them "AND" affairs as opposed to "OR" relationships.

Seldom is the faithful spouse willing to accept such a deal and the stress increases for both spouses over time. The more the faithful spouse seeks to return things to that exclusive relationship, the less satisfied the unfaithful spouse becomes with the marriage. Increasing the pressure to bring the affair to an end makes being with the faithful spouse less satisfying and more difficult emotionally.

The longer the unfaithful spouse refuses to end the affair, the more stressful doing what makes a marriage viable gets to be for the faithful spouse. The result is that both spouses distance themselves more and more, keep lists of flaws, errors and hurts that decrease the probability that the marriage can ever be rebuilt into something that works and is satisfying for both spouses.

This is where Harley's Plan B becomes a step toward possible reconciliation. By separating, the faithful spouse gets a chance to get his or her emotional reactions back under control and let some sort of normalcy return to daily life. The less the faithful spouse is caught up in keeping a list of wrongdoing and "evil deeds" by the unfaithful spouse, the more likely the faithful spouse will still be interested in negotiating a healthy marriage with this person who soon becomes some nut-job trying to make life Hell on Earth. This is why people talk about Plan B needing to be dark with as close to zero contact as possible.

Every betrayed spouse I have ever met or spoken to has pages of reasons why a dark Plan B can't occur. We need to talk about the kids. We have to talk in order to sell the house. If we don't communicate at all, how will either of us know if we want to get together later? What really takes place is that the faithful spouse is in the same boat as the unfaithful spouse, not wanting to lose out on something that benefits themselves.

Plan B is simply a separation to see if the affair might follow the typical script or if it is something more than a "normal" affair. What most people do in Plan B, at least to begin with, is the same thing they did during what they saw as Plan A. That is, they make some act or change, big or small, significant or insignificant, sustainable or just done to get the unfaithful spouse to take notice, and then test the waters, take the temperature, seek validation and input from the unfaithful spouse. Seldom does a single action or change suddenly fix the marriage for the unfaithful spouse and so after every round resentment grows, suffering escalates and frustration builds until the faithful spouse can't even imagine repairing the damage. The faithful spouse now becomes the biggest obstacle to recovery because too much investment has been made to ever feel like an equal partner again. This is even when the affair ends soon after separation.

The more adversarial the separation during its negotiation and early days, the less likely the unfaithful spouse will consider returning to the marriage partner a good option. That is why Harley talks about a short but all in Plan A before Plan B starts. What most end up doing is sliding from being hurt and blindsided by the affair toward radicalization of the actions of the unfaithful spouse. Intent to harm or hurt is assigned to stuff that is really just the unfaithful spouse doing what those in an affair do. Sides are drawn in place of actual boundaries and the adversarial approach becomes a way of life.

When apart, most faithful spouses long for, even obsess over, their unfaithful spouse. When confronted with reality by the unfaithful spouse choosing the affair instead of just having the marriage, the faithful spouse is hurt which leads to anger which leads to turning up the heat which leads to shouting, name calling and attempts to get even. The emotional roller coaster is such that the faithful spouse alternately sacrifices his or her own safety and integrity for an expectation of a sudden turn around from the unfaithful spouse, followed by a desire to punish the unfaithful spouse for being so hurtful and selfish. So we alternately dream of a life together and a cold blooded murder in the dark of night.

This is what Plan B is meant to bring an end to, for both spouses. It is harder to get into a dark Plan B. It is harder to maintain a Plan B that is not as dark. Too many fear that Plan B will make things worse. He's living with another woman playing the role that is yours by right. How much worse can it get?

The answer to that is that it can get a lot worse. The harder we try to manipulate the unfaithful spouse into returning home and the more often we fail to bring that about, the less respect and love there will be for the unfaithful spouse when the affair finally ends. The more manipulative we are during those early months (notice I said months and not days) the less the unfaithful spouse will think trying to fix the marriage is even possible.

A "dark" Plan B might be better for the BS. It "might" bring about the demise of the affair days earlier. It MIGHT save some emotional energy that would be beneficial at the start of recovery. When it does none of those things, some find it easier to blame the person following the plans than to examine their own model of how stuff is supposed to happen in life. Assuming the PLANs are perfect and will always work if you do them right, if they don't work, you must not be doing them right. It removes the need to understand what the plans are actually designed to do from the start. In working with couples, Bill Harley is nowhere near that inflexible and rigid. His plans are but general principles and concepts to apply in your unique life situation. They are not step by step plans, as such, since at every stage he leaves things open to specific application to the situation as it develops.

The PLANs are like those pictures in the magazine that give you ideas to remodel your home. If you choose different cabinets it might look different than the picture. The room might be smaller or larger than in the pages of the book. To be more specific about the plans, Dr Harley would have to make every marriage and every affair conform to one set data so that his plan would result in one final outcome. Because he doesn't do that, some have a hard time following the plans because the plans have a much broader, though less detailed, application to any given situation.



mark1952.ma@gmail.com

I Was Thinking...

The secret to having a good marriage is to understand that marriage must be total, it must be permanent, and it must be equal.-- Frank Pittman

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